Commissioners considering allowing some county employees to carry concealed weapons
BY KARISSA MILLER
In an effort to increase workplace safety, Iredell County commissioners are considering allowing county employees to carry concealed weapons to work.
Under the current policy, non-law enforcement employees are not allowed to carry concealed handguns or keep them in their vehicles, Deputy County Manager Beth Jones said.
Members of the public who are authorized to carry a concealed weapon may do so on county property.
Commissioners discussed changing the county policy to allow county employees who have a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon on their person, store it in a gun safe or keep it in a locked vehicle.
Commissioners did not vote on the proposal and would have to conduct a public hearing before changing the policy.
According to Jones, if the policy is amended, guns would still be prohibited inside of schools, recreational facilities and any building that has a state or federal agency housed in it.
County administrators have been working on measures to make sure that their buildings are more secure and recently participated in active shooting training. That training led to a staff discussion about possibly considering a change to the concealed weapons policy.
“There are some other counties that have taken some action, and this is something staff has researched,” Jones said. “We wanted to have a discussion openly and get some guidance from the board on which direction you want to go.”
Cherokee and Alamance counties allow county employees to carry a concealed weapon at work.
Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell said he is a staunch supporter of law-abiding citizens carrying concealed weapons to protect themselves and others. As of Oct. 7, 15,125 Iredell residents had active concealed carry licenses.
Studies show that 98 percent of active shootings are over in three minutes, Campbell said.
“The only way to stop use of a deadly weapon is with a deadly weapon,” the sheriff explained. “You need that option to survive.”
During Tuesday’s board meeting, concerns were voiced about different scenarios, including the prospect of someone entering a county building armed and ready to shoot or a disgruntled employee intent on harming others with a handgun.
Commissioner Marvin Norman expressed his concerns about changing the policy.
“This whole thing makes me nervous. The way I look at it … they (the public) shouldn’t have a weapon either. I think we’re opening ourselves to open a big can of worms,” Norman said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Gen Houpe said he would support the policy change.
“A sign on the front door isn’t going to stop a criminal from coming in,” he said.